Archives for March 2017

The Luck of the Irish in the Wizarding World

As March winds down to a close, hopefully lamb-like, the month’s traditional decorations of shamrocks and leprechauns begin to come down, and, causing much sadness in mint fans across America, McDonald’s stops selling Shamrock Shakes.  Before we say goodbye to the month of green beer and PBS marathons of Riverdance specials, let’s take a peek at the way in which the Hogwarts saga has, rather like St. Patrick’s Day activities in general, has both celebrated the Irish and reinforced stereotypes and assumptions.

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Cormoran Strike #4 Title is ‘Lethal White’

the-silkworm-cuckoos-calling2Yesterday J. K. Rowling had a contest on Twitter, the winner of which would win an autographed copy of her next Cormoran Strike mystery. The challenge was to figure out the title of this book from the clue “- – – H – – – H – – -.”

I found the clue all but impossible to grasp. Was it one word or two or three? Was it a picture of, say, a suspension bridge?

CareerOfEvil-UK-US-800x611Fortunately, there are legions of cryptographers in the twittersphere and we had an answer, the right answer, in a little over an hour, from a Rowling reader in Singapore. The title is ‘Lethal White.’ Prof Freeman informed me that, no, this was not a pointer to whose lives matter and the danger of armed Caucasian policemen (hurrah!), but the name of a fatal genetic abnormality among horses. I kid you not.

Three notes off the cuff about this title after the jump! [Read more…]

Nicolas Flamel in Fantastic Beasts 2?

Dear John,

What do you think about the theory of Flamel and Newt meeting up in Paris and Grindelwald trying to get the philosopher’s stone?


John’s response after the jump! [Read more…]

Celebrity is as Celebrity Does: The Double-Edged Sword of Author Accessibility

Oscar StatuetteIt’s red carpet season, which would probably be more meaningful if the big glitzy ceremonies were actually about giving out awards for exemplary work. Instead they seem to be about which celebrity’s outfit was the most shocking, who made the biggest gaffe (And the Academy Award goes to…), or about the technical glitches that reveal the true natures of singers and their actual abilities, or lack thereof, with the searing clarity of a kid yelling “The Emperor is naked!”


The other aspect of these shows that seems to get more attention than the artistic accolades they are supposed to celebrate is the way in which celebrities use the red carpet and the on-stage podium as a bully pulpit from which to proclaim their own political and social agendas. With the addition of social media outlets like Twitter and Instagram, celebrities can tell everybody how they feel about everything, sometimes whether or not everybody wants to know or has any inclination to care. Though we expect this nonsense from movie stars and rappers, we are now seeing more and more of it from everyone from political leaders to brilliant writers, whom we might have hoped were above such shenanigans.


J.K. Rowling’s recent public tweet-wars with everyone from television personalities to disappointed readers have drawn attention to the way in which our technology now makes it possible for living authors to be remarkably outspoken and accessible, in ways previously un-imagined. Publicists and handlers of best-selling authors doubtless encourage them to engage in these spectacles to keep the fame machine cranking, in the belief that there is no bad publicity. But not all authors, living and dead, have allowed themselves to engage at this level.  Author accessibility is a tricky minefield, one that individual authors navigate differently, placing them at different levels on what I like to call the “Scale of Accessibility,” ranging from Hermit to Gadfly, and everywhere in-between. Let’s visit a few spots on that scale, and the authors who epitomize different ways of coping with, and using, their fame to present, or protect, themselves and their views.

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Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them Deleted Scenes — Not All, But a Bunch

Want to see those deleted scenes before the DVD extras are released? They’re on YouTube now: Mildred’s dropping Jacob, the full Jacob and the Demiguise chase scene (but not the Newt and Tina shared future glimpse), GrindelGraves comforting Tina and grooming Credence, the Runespoor Jacob didn’t quite see eye-to-eye, Shaw, Sr., in grief at the newspaper office, why Queenie took Jacob from the hotel rooftop to the battle scene, and what happened to the escaped Billywig Newt forgot.

We’re missing the Credence at lunch with Graves, Newt’s shirtless moment, and the GrindelGraves extended scene in the subway professing love for an Obscurus, not to mention Graves having his vision in his MACUSA office, but there’s an awful lot here to unpack.

There’s an extended version of the subway scene with Credence visible in the Obscurial online now, as well.

Here’s the weird thing. Though all these extended play and deleted scenes are already online, two ‘Exclusive Deleted Scenes’ from ‘Fantastic Beasts’ — both of which are on the other, longer reel above, Jacob and the Demiguise without the Queenie-Jacob moment, i.e., significantly shorter — have just been officially released in the run-up to the launch of the film’s DVD/Blu-Ray packaging.

Anybody have an idea as to what is going on? First thoughts about the deleted scenes? Let us know below!